As for scorching, I'd love some advice. As I mentioned, I'm new at this, and I've only run the still a half a dozen times or so. The first few runs were with clear sugar washes, and the last few were with all-wheat mashes. I'll interject that my scorching issues have been mostly due to a lack of patience on my part. I have been too eager to get the wash in the still to let it clear properly. I also wanted to see just what I could get away with. In short, I have basically not cleared my grain washes at all. I would love to know a good method though.
For the first grain batch, after fermentation I strained the bulk of the solids out with various filters and strainers, and threw it right into the still. I burned out both elements before the still head got up to temp. Now try swapping out elements with a pot full of hot wash, lol! This is where I had some success running a 240 volt element at 120 volts, as the increased surface area kept it from burning the element out. I still had to shut it down when I saw smoke coming out of the spirit tube. Smoked ethanol - Yummy...
The next run I actually tried a double boiler method, submersing the keg into a 55 gallon steel drum with a propane burner for heat. The run started off excellent, and I thought maybe it was going to be just the ticket. However, it seemed to reach a point where there wasn't enough of a delta between the pot temp and the boiling water to maintain a good vapor flow, so I scrapped that run after collecting only a few ounces (after throwing out the first 150 mls or so). What I collected was pretty good though.
The next run was electric using both 240 volt elements at 120 volts. Scorching wasn't too bad, but when I cleaned the elements afterward, there was a bit of char on them. It didn't seem to taint the spirit though in this case.
The biggest issue I am having at this point is that I'm not getting a good yield. I can't be getting more than 4% from my grain washes. I have the alcohol textbook, and have read the relevant chapters many times, and it's still a head-spinner. The book suggests that there is no need for alpha-amylase unless you are pumping mash from the cooker to the fermenter, so I have been trying to get by with gluco-amylase by itself.
Briefly, here's what I have been doing. Heat water (10 gallons) to near boiling then turn off the heat. Slurry in grain (2 pounds per gallon) and stir occasionally for about an hour. The temp stays around 180 for this period of time. Gelatinization seems to be complete and viscosity is very high. Cool to about 155, add citric acid to adjust PH to around 5.2 - add gluco-amylase and let sit about an hour. Viscosity is reduced but it's still pretty thick. Cool to 90 and add hydrated SAF instant bakers yeast at about 2 grams per liter. Then 3 additions of DAP at 1.4 grams per liter over the next three days. Maintaining the pH around 5-5.5 with potassium carbonate as needed. The fermentation is very active and seems to finish up in 4-5 days with a final gravity of 1.000. I couldn't tell you the exact starting gravity, because it has been so thick that an accurate measurement is difficult to get, but I have thought it to be around 1.060.
I have since bought some alpha-amylase from Mile-Hi and am hoping I will get better conversion of starches to sugar, in addition to the gluco-amylase. I have also used Fermaid K, but not sure it made any difference in the yield. I know there is something simple missing in my process, I just don't know what it is. I am inclined to think the starches just aren't converting completely. Any advice will be appreciated.
--- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "jamesonbeam1" <jamesonbeam1@...> wrote:
> As far as your scorching problems, could you tell us a bit about what
> your distilling and your method of clearing or lautering your
> fermentations. Maybe we can help ya out.